More lies and deceit from your ISP


Back in 2007, I wrote an article for PC magazine about all the shenanigans that ISPs use to throttle bandwidth.  The article  set a record for on-line comments  for the day, and the editor was happy. I recall, at that time, I felt like a lone wolf trying to point out these practices. Finally some redemption,  this morning,  the FTC is flexing its muscles,  and are now taking on AT&T for false claims with respect to unlimited data.

Federal officials on Tuesday sued AT&T, the nation’s second-largest cellular carrier, for allegedly deceiving millions of customers by selling them supposedly “unlimited” data plans that the company later “throttled” by slowing Internet speeds when customers surfed the Web too much.

Seems you can have unlimited data plan with AT&T , but if you try to use it all the time,  they slow down your speed to the point where the amount of data you get approaches zero. You get unlimited data, as long as you don’t use it, make sense?

 

Recently I have been doing some experiments with Comast and my live dropcam home video feed.  Seems if I try to watch this  video feed on my business class comcast, ( it comes down from the dropcam cloud) ,  the video will time out within about minute or so, but with other people watching my feed they don’t have this problem. So I am starting to suspect that Comcast is using some form of application shaper to cut off this feed ( or slow it down to the point where it does not work ) , but my evidence is anecdotal.  I am supposed to have unlimited 4 megabits up and 16 megabits down with my new business class service, but I am starting to think there may be some serious caveats hidden in this promise.

Where can you find the fastest Internet Speeds ?


The fastest Internet Speeds on earth can be found on any police detective related shows, CSI,  etc.  Pick a modern TV show, or movie for that matter, with a technology scene, and you’ll find  the investigators can log into the Internet from any place on earth, and the connection is perfect. They can bring up images and data files instantly , while on the move, in a coffee shop, in  hotel, does not matter.    They can be in some remote village in India or back at the office, super perfectly fast connection every time.  Even the bad guys have unlimited bandwidth from anywhere  in the world on these shows.

So if you ever need fast Internet, find a friend who works in government or law enforcement, and ask for shared  access.

On the other hand,  I just spent a weekend in a small hotel , where nothing worked, their wireless was worthless pings went unanswered for 30 seconds at a time, and  my backup Verizon 4g was  also sporadic in and out. So I just gave up and read a magazine. When this happens, I wish I could just go to the Verizon Back Haul at their tower and plug a NetEqualizer in, this would immediately stop their data crush.

End of thought of day

NetEqualizer News: October 2014


October 2014

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we discuss more details of our upcoming Cloud Reporting offering, highlight two ways to learn more about the NetEqualizer, and preview our new NetEqualizer 8.1 Product Demo Guide. As always, feel free to pass this along to others who might be interested in NetEqualizer News.

A message from Art…
Art Reisman, CTO – APconnections

October in Colorado has been mild to date. This year, I received an early “Halloween treat” – my garden pumpkin plants are still producing baby pumpkins! Normally by this time everything has been killed off by frost – but not this year.art_canoe_picture

We have a Halloween treat for you as well this month. Due to popular demand and very positive feedback, we are continuing to offer our “Tech Refresh” sessions. For those of you looking for a more extensive training, we are also offering On-Site One Day Training Sessions – see below for details on each of these offerings.

We love it when we hear back from you – so let us know what you think of the new RTR! Email me directly at art@apconnections.net. I would love to hear from you!

Here Comes The Cloud!

Have you had a chance to play with our Release 8.1 reporting features yet? There are some nice traffic graphs and other tools to help you find out what has been happening on your network. If you have not already upgraded to 8.1, contact our Support Team at support@apconnections.net to get current today!

tbyip

We are now planning for our 8.2 Release. As always, if you have RTR feedback or other feature requests for 8.2, please email your thoughts to sales@apconnections.net.

Our 8.2 development focus will be centered on long-term data resolution. Data resolution, or the granularity for which you can drill down on historical data in reporting, is based on three factors:

1. Sample rate
2. Length of time you store data
3. Amount of storage available

As you can imagine, the three factors above are interrelated. In order to increase our storage out to a year or more, there are two options. One would be to install larger disk drives on systems. The second option would be to take advantage of the cloud, where storage is essentially infinite and access to the data is fast.

We are choosing the latter option, for the same reasons the rest of the world is moving away from local data storage. We are planning on having NetEqualizer Cloud Reporting (NCR) ready to go by the summer of 2015, with beta trials this spring.

It will be easy to set up with a few clicks, and will be a cost-effective option for keeping NetEqualizer data long-term. Please note that you must be on Release 8.1+ to take advantage of our NetEqualizer Cloud Reporting (NCR).

If you have questions on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300


NetEqualizer 8.1 Product Demo GuideScreenshot at Oct 19 16-57-23

Our Product Demonstration Guide has been updated to highlight the new reporting capabilities available in 8.1.

Click here to get the updated guide, which you can use to review key features and functions of the NetEqualizer.

The Product Demo Guide is a great self-guided introduction to the NetEqualizer. If you have new staff members that could benefit from a quick tutorial, I highly recommend giving them this updated guide!

The Product Demo Guide is also available as part of our Online Demo Site. Register here to go to the NetEqualizer demonstration site and use the updated guide for a self-guided tour.


Schedule a Tech Refresh Call

We mentioned this offer in last month’s newsletter as well, but due to popular demand, we are highlighting this again for those of you who missed it last month!

We want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your NetEqualizer, as we are sure you do too! For customers that have been using the NetEqualizer awhile, sometimes with staffing changes over the years, and our new software releases, your collective NetEqualizer know-how diminishes. We would like to help you quickly get up-to-speed on all the features & functions of the NetEqualizer that are new to you, or you might have forgotten.

For customers current on NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS), we would be happy to schedule up to a 1 hour NetEqualizer “Tech Refresh” call with you and your team. We will set up a webex session to screen-share with you, and walk through the NetEqualizer technology.

Call or email us to schedule your Tech Refresh today:

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300


Want More? On-Site Technical Training

While a Tech Refresh call is a great way to get current on all things NetEqualizer, some of you have expressed an interest in even more!

So, we are now offering a limited number of On-Site One Day Technical Training Sessions in the U.S. and Canada, subject to availability.

Our one day training is great if you would like an engineer to train your team at your location, working directly on your NetEqualizer(s). We can highlight key configuration options, assess your set-up, and help you to review your environment in detail.

Pricing is $3500 USD for one day, plus travel expenses.

Call or email to check availability for On-Site Technical Training today:

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300


Best Of The Blog

QoS Over The Internet – Five Must-Know Facts

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

Twelve years ago we crossed a chasm with our NetEqualizer technology. We found a new and completely novel way to provide QoS without controlling both ends of the connection. In other words we are still the only solution that I know of that can sit in your enterprise and ensure that an incoming VoIP call over your public facing Internet connection does not get drowned out from an incoming download.

There is no doubt that we do it well because every month I talk to a customer that thanks us for helping solve this problem. If you do get into a water cooler discussion with other IT people on this subject, please send them this link from a blog post where I explain this technology and how it is different, you will be doing them a favor.

Photo Of The Month
IMG_0598
Great Horned Owl
The great horned owl is one of the most beautiful birds in the Americas. This particular owl spends his time in Lafayette, CO in a staff member’s backyard. Due to its natural-colored plumage, it can successfully adapt to most environments.

Notes from a cyber criminal


After a couple of recent high profile data thefts,   I put the question to myself,  how does a cyber thief convert a large amount of credit cards into a financial windfall?

I did some research, and then momentarily put on the shoes of a cyber thief, here are my notes and thoughts:

I am the greatest hacker in the world and I just got a-hold of twenty million  Home Depot debit cards and account numbers. What is my next move. Well I guess I could just start shopping at Home Depot every day and maxing out all my stolen account cards with a bunch of Lawn Mowers , Garden Hoses, and other items. How many times could I do this before I got caught ?  Probably not that many, I am sure the buying patterns would be flagged even before the consumer realized their card was stolen , especially if I was nowhere near the home area code of my victim(s).  And then I’d have to fence all those items to turn it into cash. But let’s assume I acted quickly and went on a home depot shopping spree with my twenty million cards.  Since I am a big time crook I am looking for a haul I can retire on, and so I’d want to buy and fence at least a few hundred thousand dollars worth of stuff out the gate. Now that is going to be quite a few craig(s) list advertisements, and one logistical nightmare to move those goods, and also I am leaving a trail back to me because at some point I have to exchange the goods with the buyer and they are going to want to pay by check . Let me re-think this…

Okay so I am getting smarter, forget the conventional method , what if I find some Russian portal where I can just sell the Home Depot cards and have the funds paid in Bitcoin to some third-party account that is untraceable.  How many people actually have Bitcoin accounts, and how many are interested in buying stolen credit cards on the black market, and then how to insure that the numbers have not been deactivated ? Suppose I sell to some Mafia type and the cards are not valid anymore ? Will they track me down and kill me ? Forget the Bitcoin,  I’ll have to use Paypal , again leaving a trail of some kind.  So now how do I market my credit card fencing site, I have 20 million cards to move and no customers.  A television advertisement , an underworld blog post ?  I need customers to buy these cards and I need them fast , once I start selling them Home Depot will only take a few days to shut down their cards . Maybe I can just have an agent hawk them in Thailand for $3 each , that way I stay anonymous, yeh that’s what I’ll do whew , I’ll be happy if I can net a few thousand dollars.

Conclusion: Although the theft of a data makes a great headline and is certainly not to be taken lightly , the ability for the crook(s) to convert bounty into a financial windfall, although possible is most likely a far more difficult task than the data theft . Stealing the data is one thing, but profiting from it on anything but the smallest scale is very difficult if not impossible.

The real problem for the hacked commercial institution is not the covering the loss of revenue from the theft, but the loss of company value from loss of public trust which can mount into the billions.

Although my main business is Bandwidth Control I do spend a good deal of thought cycles on Security as on occasion the two go hand in hand. For example some of the utilities we use on our NetEqualizer are used to thwart DOS attacks.  We also have our NetGladiator product which is simply the best and smartest tool out there for preventing an attack through your Website.

NetEqualizer News: September 2014


September 2014

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we dedicate the newsletter to our new Enhanced Dynamic Real-Time Reporting (RTR), which is now generally available! As always, feel free to pass this along to others who might be interested in NetEqualizer News.

A message from Art…
Art Reisman, CTO – APconnections

September is the start of the harvest season, and this year once again we are ready with a new release at harvest time. Along with my giant pumpkins (see picture below), we think you will agree that our 8.1 Release – Enhanced Dynamic Real-Time Reporting (RTR) is also a bountiful harvest. Our Enhanced Dynamic RTR is easy to use, but in case you need guidance, we have also updated our User Guide. art_canoe_picture

I am excited to say that our reporting now offers four weeks of historical data. I now feel that it rivals (and exceeds) what we offered via our 3rd party reporting tool, ntop. Thus, it is time to sunset ntop. So as of 8.1, you will no longer see ntop in our GUI.

Finally, if you would like a walk through on our new reporting, to help you get up-to-speed on all the features that we offer, call or email and ask for a “Tech Refresh” call with us.

We love it when we hear back from you – so let us know what you think of the new RTR! Email me directly at art@apconnections.net. I would love to hear from you!

8.1 Release is Generally Available!

8.1 adds exciting features to our Dynamic Real-Time Reports, including the ability to graphically view traffic at this moment and up to a four week period. We have also expanded your view to include the ability to graph by selected Pools, IP addresses, subnets, VLANs, along with your entire network. And, you can see all of this in the units that make the most sense for you (Mbps, MBps, Kbps, KBps). We have also added the NetEqualizer Log and Active Connections into our RTR Menu, to give you access to everything you need from one convenient place.

You can use 8.1 key features on your network to:

If this sounds interesting to you, and you would like to upgrade to 8.1, please contact our Support Team to get started! You can reach Support at:

support@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300 x102

Please note that as of this release we are officially deprecating ntop. The new RTR tool provides much of the core ntop functionality without all the processing overhead.

Also, some features discussed in previous newsletters such as Penalty Reporting will be released in a future offering, along with a more interactive Dashboard. Protocol Tracking is still available as an experimental offering. Please contact us at the email above if you are interested in enabling this feature.

These features are free to customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support who are running version 7.5+. If you are not current with NSS, contact us today!

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300


NetEqualizer 8.1 User Guide

Our User Guide has been updated to highlight the new reporting capabilities available in 8.1. Check it out here.

You can read all about Dynamic RTR under the Monitoring and Reporting section, starting on page 44. With the embedded screenshots, we think this guide is a nice way to see what the new reporting release offers.

If you have not checked out our User Guide in awhile, you can also take a look at other sections that cover advanced configuration, such as Redundancy & Failover and our Appendices.


Schedule a Tech Refresh Call

We want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your NetEqualizer, as we are sure you do too! For customers that have been using the NetEqualizer awhile, sometimes with staffing changes over the years, and our new software releases, your collective “NetEqualizer know-how” diminishes.

We would like to help you quickly get up-to-speed on all the features & functions of the NetEqualizer that are new to you, or you might have forgotten.

For customers current on NetEqualizer Software and Support (NSS), we would be happy to schedule up to a 1 hour NetEqualizer “Tech Refresh” call with you and your team.

We will set up a webex session to screen-share with you, and walk through the NetEqualizer technology, both old and new.

Contact us at:

sales@apconnections.net

-or-

303-997-1300

if you are interested in a “Tech Refresh.”


Best Of The Blog

Surviving iOS Updates

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

The birds outside my office window are restless. I can see the strain in the Comcast cable wires as they droop, heavy with the burden of additional bits, weighing them down like a freak ice storm. It is time, once again, for Apple to update every device in the Universe with their latest iOS update.

Assuming you are responsible for a Network with a limited Internet pipe, and you are staring down 100 or more users, about to hit the accept button for their update, what can you do to prevent your user network from being gridlocked…

Photo Of The Month
IMG_0399
Pumpkins!
Giant pumpkins like the one above are a Colorado staple in the fall. You see them all over town – on porches for decorations, carved into Jack-O’-Lanterns, or made into delicious pies.
Posted in Newsletters. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Surviving iOS updates


The birds outside my office window are restless. I can see the strain in the Comcast cable wires as they droop, heavy with the burden of additional bits, weighting them down like a freak ice storm.   It is time, once again, for Apple to update every device in the Universe with their latest IOS update.

Assuming you are responsible for a Network with a limited Internet pipe, and you are staring down 100 or more users, about to hit the accept button for their update, what can you do to prevent your user network from being gridlocked?

The most obvious option to gravitate to is caching. I found this nice article (thanks Luke) on the Squid settings used for a previous iOS update in 2013.  Having worked with Squid quite a bit helping our customers, I was not surprised on the amount of tuning required to get this to work, and I suspect there will be additional changes to make it work in 2014.

If you have a Squid caching solution already up and running it is worth a try, but I am on the fence of recommending a Squid install from scratch.  Why? Because we are seeing diminishing returns from Squid caching each year due to the amount of dynamic content.  Translation: Very few things on the Internet come from the same place with the same filename anymore, and for many content providers they are marking much of their content as non-cacheable.

If you have a NetEqualizer in place you can easily blunt the effects of the data crunch with a standard default set-up. The NetEqualizer will automatically push the updates out further into time, especially during peak hours when there is contention. This will allow other applications on your network to function normally during the day. I doubt anybody doing the update will notice the difference.

Finally if you are desperate, you might be able to block access to anything IOS update on your firewall.  This might seem a bit harsh, but then again Apple did not consult with you, and besides isn’t that what the free Internet at Starbucks is for?

Here is a snippet pulled from a forum on how to block it.

iOS devices check for new versions by polling the server mesu.apple.com. This is done via HTTP, port 80. Specifically, the URL is:

http://mesu.apple.com/assets/com_apple_MobileAsset_SoftwareUpdate/com_apple_MobileAsset_SoftwareUpdate.xml

If you block or redirect mesu.apple.com, you will inhibit the check for software updates. If you are really ambitious, you could redirect the query to a cached copy of the XML, but I haven’t tried that. Please remove the block soon; you wouldn’t want to prevent those security updates, would you?

Your Critical Business Needs Two Sources for Internet


Time Warner’s Nationwide outage got my wheels turning again about how we perceive risk when it comes to network outages.

For example:

We have close to 10,000 NetEqualizer systems in the field, of which, we get about 10 failures a year. If you further break down those failures  to root cause, about 80 percent are due to some external event:

  •  lightning
  • flood
  • heat
  • blunt trauma

Given that breakdown, the chances of a NetEqualizer failure for a well-maintained system in a properly vented environment is far less than 1 percent a year. I would also assume that for a simple router or firewall the failure rate is about the same.

Now compare those odds with the chances that your Internet provider is going to crash and burn for some extended outage during the business day  over the course of a full year?

I would say the odds of this happening approach 100 percent.

And yet, the perception often is that, you need a fail-over switch on your in house equipment. Perhaps you do, but if you are truly trying to mitigate risk in order of precedence, you should address the potential outages from your provider before investing in redundant hardware.

Here again, our top 5 reasons for an Internet Outage.

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